The SF Giants opened up a spot on the 40-man roster after designating Austin Wynns for assignment. The front office rarely allows a vacancy to remain open for long, so should they take a chance on utility bat Nick Solak?
Should the SF Giants take a flyer on multi-positional bat?
The Seattle Mariners designated Solak for assignment on Monday while selecting the contract of pitcher José Rodríguez. Solak's time with Seattle could be coming to an end after just 17 plate appearances with their Triple-A affiliate.
It bears mentioning that the Giants and Mariners made at least 500 trades last season. They have not hooked up for a trade in months and it would not be a baseball season without one. Besides being with Seattle, Solak checks off several boxes that the Giants' front office covets in that he has experience at multiple positions and has a good history against left-handed pitching.
The 28-year-old was selected in the second round of the 2016 draft out of Louisville University by the New York Yankees. He was drafted by New York but developed as a prospect with the Tampa Bay Rays following a three-team trade in 2018.
The Giants certainly have an appetite for prospects who could from the Tampa Bay organization. And, Solak was not just a quality prospect in the Rays farm system, but he ranked as the No. 74 prospect in baseball according to Baseball Prospectus prior to the 2020 season. That was not that long ago.
The utility bat has a track record of hititng in the minors, slashing .293/.382/.467 across seven minor league seasons. This includes a solid 11.0 percent walk rate against a 19.3 percent strikeout rate. Solak has flashed some power as well as he blasted 27 home runs across two levels in 2019.
However, minor league performance has not exactly translated to major league success. In four seasons as a major leaguer, Solak has posted a .700 OPS with a 7.6 percent walk rate against a 20.2 percent strikeout rate. This does, however, include a strong .791 OPS against left-handed pitching.
Solak's profile is very much that of a bat-first utility player. He has experience at several positions including first base, second base, third base, and left field. Second base is his primary position but he does not grade out favorably at any position.
It is a square peg, round hole type of fit, but the Giants front office usually prefers offense while leveraging positional experience. The tend to value defensive experience over competence a little too much if you ask me, but it is how this front office operates.
The fact that Solak is hitting the waiver wire just as the Giants opened up a spot on the 40-man roster sets the organization up for a roster move. Whether that is with Solak or another player, that vacancy likely will not remain open for long.